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A seat at the chef’s table with Bruce Lim

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Chef Bruce Lim, the culinary maestro behind Chef's Table and the soon-to-be opened Hyphy's

Chef Bruce Lim, the recent judge of Electrolux’s Wok-a-Holic Kitchen Masters Cook-Off in the Philippines, is a busy man. Having to host the Asian Food Channel’s ‘Tablescapes: Life on a Plate’ while running one of the top restaurants in the Philippines and setting up another is no easy feat.

Bruce Lim

Chef Bruce Lim, the culinary maestro behind Chef’s Table and the soon-to-be opened Hyphy’s

So it was a great coup for us when the culinary maestro behind Chef’s Table and the soon-to-be-opened Hyphy’s agreed to sit down with us to discuss the finer points of Filipino cuisine and being a chef.

You were born and raised in the US, studied in Le Cordon Bleu in London and worked in some of the world’s best French kitchens. With all those different influences, what made you come back to your roots of Filipino cuisine?

Growing up, Filipino food has always been a special part of my life. You can say it’s my comfort food. I’m always fascinated by the flavours and styles. After learning classic techniques, I found it only fair to play with the food I love so much.

How is Filipino cuisine unique?

This is a question that has no right answer. But my crack at it is that Filipino food is about personal interpretation. There’s no right or wrong way in making a particular dish. So if you travel from Northern Ilocos all the way down south to Mindanao, you can find a dish with the same name and it’s equally as good as the one you tried before it. So who is right? No one – and that’s what makes our food unique.

Where do you draw inspiration from when creating dishes?

I’m blessed to be able to travel. I constantly learn something new whenever I travel. Something as simple as a local wet market in the province floods my mind with so many ideas. And when I hit a wall and I can’t think anymore, I play with my son and it all comes back.

What are some necessary traits that a chef needs to have?

I call them the 4 P’s: Persistence, Perfectionism, Patience and Passion.

Cooking – art or science? Elaborate.

It’s a bit of both for me. You need to know how things mix with one another. At the same time, you need to make sure that the food you place on the plate looks good too. I always say that you can take a peek at a chef’s soul by the food that he makes.

What has been your greatest challenge in cooking so far?

Opening up two restaurants – Chef’s Table and Hyphy’s, pretty much at the same time. Just dig deep and push, pray you do it right and don’t look back.

The recent Electrolux Asian Food Survey shows that the passion for cooking is very much alive in Asia.  There’s also been an increase in the popularity of cooking shows and open kitchen restaurants that seem to support these findings. What do you think are some of the reasons behind these trends?

There’s definitely a number of really popular celebrities now who aren’t  just TV or talk show hosts, they are actual chefs hosting cooking shows ,.  You can also see the increase in people who want to learn. I find it cool and amazing.

If you could only eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Sinigang Oxtail. It has to be super sour and have tons of mustasa and chill. A big heaping bowl of rice would have to accompany it.

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